This is the five-port 10.6A USB charger I use when I travel. It saves me from a lot of headaches when the hotel room has only ONE power point. But thankfully the hotel we were staying in in Paris had more power points.
We didn't stay in Paris for long, just one night. We drove off to Caen after one day here. We will be back after we finish our road trip. It's our final leg.
We had to rent two 7-seater MPVs to carry 11 of us and or luggage. Thankfully they came with GPS built in so we didn't need to pay for that. We did add an €11-a-day Hertz mifi router with unlimited 4G internet, one for each car. That way we all had Internet and could Whatsapp group chat between the cars.
We did manage to make it to the Eiffel Tower on our first night here though. The wife and I just had to do a default lovey couple photo in front of the Eiffel.
Our gang saw the queue and didn't bother going up. We just enjoyed the view from below. So pretty, the Eiffel Tower is at night.
This is our packing for a 15-Day trip to France with my brood. It is winter there so we are packing more warm clothing for the kids and the wife (we are Equator dwellers, so our bodies aren't as acclimatized to cold weather).
Still, I am rather pleased with how efficiently we managed to pack.
My clothes are in the Aeronaut 30 (weight: 6kg, about 13 lbs). This includes all the jackets and sweater consisting of Icebreaker merino wool stuff, Uniqlo down jacket and a Columbia softshell.
My camera gear and iPad Air are in the Co-Pilot. I am debating whether to take the Night Flight Travel Duffel instead. It has double the capacity of the Co-Pilot but the latter is more compact.
My two younger ones age 9 and 11 carrying the Synapse 19 backpacks. The Synapse 19s contain their winter wear and one set of spare clothes. About 2.5kg (5.5lbs). I reckoned they should be able to handle that load. Their school bags are already more than double that weight (weight is a problem with SIngapore school bags, kids carry way too much). The key is to ensure that they have something to wear the moment we touch down. So even we lose our one checked luggage, or it is delayed, they still have a set of clothes and all their winter wear.
Faith isn't going on this trip, and is staying home with my mom. Her sensory issues don't deal with 13-hour flights very well. But Mom is taking her to Malaysia for a 4-day road trip with our helper. So she will have a ball.
I gave the missus the Dyneema Aeronaut 45, the bag on the far right. She has most of her clothes in there. About 6kg (13lbs) too. The bag is like a cave, swallowing all her belongings. This carry-on legal bag can be carried by the handle, by slinging or by the hidden backpack straps. The wife carried it backpack-style to leave her hands free to handle the kids.
We have one checked luggage. The mid-sized suitcase is carrying the balance of the kids' clothes, some toiletries and cosmetics that belong to the wife that won't pass the TSA 3-1-1 test (one does not argue with the wife about her toiletries and makeup) and the wife's high boots.
I tried suggesting that the wife wear the boots on the plane but she wanted to wear something lighter. Again, one does not question the wife when it comes to what fashion is needed on a trip. Hey, it's Paris, she wants her boots, she gets to pack it.
Not too bad for a family trip for half a month. We used to pack at least three suitcases for something like this.
And you don't realize how OCD you are until you are responsible for packing not just your own stuff but for the family. Color-coordinated packing cubes anyone?
I made a pre-trip run to NTUC Fairprice before we left. One must always have the right meds and other random stuff like Travel Wash and wet tissues. I usually use Dr Bronner's liquid soap for my own travel washing but I thought this time, I'd try the Dylon one for the family.
It is the first time the kids are on such long flight (13 hours!) and going to somewhere this cold. They asked me if the movies on the plane are free and if the meals are free too. They are used to budget flights where everything is extra. I explained to them that the stuff on this flight isn't "free" per se, just included in the price.
A National Workplace Happiness Survey says that Singapore's overall workplace happiness falls into the band "Under Happy", between "Unhappy" and "Happy". So we thought of Pharrell's song. And shot the whole thing on an iPhone 6 Plus.
Download or listen via the Soundcloud player above or the mrbrown server below:
This is the scene that greeted me when I landed in Narita after a redeye flight from Singapore. Rain, gray skies and cold weather. The only thing that cheered me up was the sign that said "Free wifi in Narita".
The SQ flight itself to Tokyo was great. New entertainment system and the usual great service. I had a whole row of seats to myself too. I watched A Million Ways to Die in the West by Seth MacFarlane, and found a million ways to die of boredom from that movie.
After picking up my rental portable internet router from the airport post office, I donned my down jacket and rain jacket and waited for my 90-minute ride to town. "17°C" said the clock outside. Thank goodness I packed the merino wool stuff.
My hotel in Shinjuku (which shall remain unnamed) didn't have any rooms ready for my early check-in. "After 2pm," they said firmly, even though my booking indicated an early check-in. Ah well, I didn't have much luggage anyway (one small backpack for my clothes and one small satchel for my gear) so I was free to wonder around town.
My personal radar led me to Yodobashi Camera in Shinjuku where I did some browsing. I swear I didn't buy a thing. Then a quick lunch (where I saw the above menu item), some more walking, and a coffee with a slice of cheesecake later, I was back at the hotel at 1.59pm to check in.
"After 2pm, please," was the reply.
And so at 2.01pm, myself and the lobby of eating guests surged forward to check-in. The room, I have to say, was small. I felt like Gandalf visiting the Hobbits in their home. Heck, the Hobbits would have found the place claustrophobic.
But a room is a room. I took my shower in a Hobbit-sized half-bathtub in the Hobbit-sized bathroom (I didn't even know they made bath tubs this size) and tried not to knock into anything.
One of my readers who lives here told me the rain was going to last all day. At first I wore my rain jacket but eventually I caved in and bought a ¥513 transparent umbrella for Ryan and me, from the Pharmacy-That-Sells-Everything.
Supper was the nicest meal of the day. Good old ramen from 博多風龍 at Shinjuku area. You can add extra ramen for free.
The guy next to us refilled his bowl three times. Really ate until he got his money's worth.
Oh, and the rain that was going on all day? It stopped soon after we bought our umbrellas. It's all a conspiracy, I tell you.
Fury was a fierce WWII movie. Epic tank battles, killing Nazis, gritty underdogs what's not to like?
The middle was a bit draggy though. The movie is no Inglourious Basterds, even both movies have Brad Pitt in it. Fury takes itself very seriously and sometimes, that drags the pace down.
We get it. War is terrible. People die. Body parts have to be cleaned off the inside of tanks.
When Fury gets to the fighting parts, it is clobbering time. And even it's even more entertaining when you know that the Americans are using peashooter M4A3E8 Sherman tanks against vastly superior German Tiger tanks.
What the Shermans lacked in armor and firepower, it made up for in numbers and reliability. And the ability to travel in water. Shermans were the Zergs to the Tigers who were the over-engineered Protoss.
But the German tanks were truly fearsome beasts and a single Tiger could obliterate several Shermans by itself.
Sherman tanks couldn't penetrate their armor without hitting them from the sides or behind, and in one scene, the movie captures this fight brilliantly.
Watching this makes me want to build model tanks again. And maybe play a WWII game. Maybe Battlefield 1942.